GLENDALE, Ariz. — Josh Phegley won’t deviate from his plan.
A day after White Sox manager Robin Ventura said Tyler Flowers probably is in the lead to be the starting catcher, Phegley said Sunday it doesn’t affect his outlook. Phegley believes he’s a big leaguer but knows he still must prove more to the White Sox after he played in 65 games in 2013. Club officials said over the offseason neither Flowers or Phegley did anything to separate themselves from one another in a season in which the backstop’s combined .560 OPS ranked 29th among 30 teams’ catchers in the majors.
“I’m just here to show them what I can do,” Phegley said. “They’ve seen me enough, but there is some competition for the job. That’s what we all want.”
After an outstanding start in the minors in ’13 and poor production by Flowers, Phegley took over as the starter in July.
He hit three home runs in his first five games in the big leagues, but his production slowed down as he got caught up in trying to do too much. Phegley began to expand his strike zone and swung at 46 percent of the pitches thrown outside the strike zone, according to Baseball Info Solutions. He finished the season with a .206/.223/.299 slash line and four home runs and 22 RBIs in 213 plate appearances.
“Tried to do too much,” Phegley said. “Then kind of the attitude surrounding the club last year and how negative it was, everyone was out there trying to do way more than they were capable of instead of just playing the game.”
His struggles haven’t left him with any doubts about his ability. With a little more experience, Phegley believes he’ll prove to the White Sox he belongs as they continue their quest to find a long-term catching solution.
“I have all the confidence in the world that once I get my bearings, adjust to the pitching and the speed of the level I’m going to be a good player,” Phegley said.